Beirut, Syria

Third Division, Under Admiral Seaton Schroeder, sent two ships for one day to visit Beirut, the USS Virginia and Louisiana on January 8th, 1909.  As they departed the same day, many of the crew on the two ships probably did not get liberty to go ashore.  The ships had been in Suez on the 5th, Port Said on the 6th and now Beirut on the 8th.


flowers from the holy land

What do you get when you travel to Beirut as a visitor in 1909?  Apparently, "Flowers From the Holy Land."  This little olive wood booklet contains real flowers and plants pressed behind onion skin paper.  In the booklet there are 12-pages of plants.


Virginia Olivewood Book Title Page 001


This book was brought back by A. G. Bronkonski, USS Virginia.  Apparently he labeled the book at a later date and forgot where he got it, he dated it January 6th and Port Said, but the ship was in Beirut on January 8th, and I would not think Port Said would have books on the Holy Land.

A second olive wood booklet that I have in my collection is from a sailor on the USS San Francisco, John Reber and is dated November 29, 1903, Beirut, Syria.  This one includes some nice images between the pages of Holy Land flowers.


"As you will have not doubt heard by the time that you receive this letter our schedule has been changed and we are going to Beirut and then to Smyrna.  I am going to try and get up to Damascus while we are at Beirut.  It all seems like a sort of dream to me now that it is over-with but never-the-less the cold fact remains that I have been to Cairo, and have stood upon the Sahara desert while the pyramids built over forty centuries ago gazed down upon me."

Frank Lesher was a Chief Electrician on board the USS Virginia.  His extensive collection of items and letters he brought back are shown   in the "Letters from Home" portion of this site.

This small disk of olive wood was Frank brought back from this quick stop.  As you can imagine, there are very few items from this port visit and this little coaster is part of the many treasures of this collection.



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